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ITU tackles climate change

14 July 2008
ITU tackles climate change

Imagine that the lighting, buildings, waste and transport systems could talk to each other in a city. Would allowing these systems to interact make the city more efficient? How would this be made possible?

The key to sustainable cities will be the ability to make the increasingly complex landscape of devices and networks interoperable. In other words: standards.

After 2 symposia this Spring on ICT and climate change, the ITU has launched a Focus Group looking at the international methodologies that would be needed to better understand ICT's positive and negative impact on climate change. I hope that the group will put their considerable expertise behind not only methodologies for understanding the direct impact of ICT products and services, but also their enabling role. See more on ITU's work in this space.

This June 2 interview with Malcom Johnson, Director of the ITU, shows that he's inspired by the enabling potential of ICT. He is citing some high figures - that ICT can play a role in reducing up to 60% of emissions in other sectors. That might be overly optimistic.

But progress is being made on the areas ICT can immediately control, which is a good start:



  • VDSL2 has got 3 power modes


  • RFID - increasingly being applied to reduce energy consumption


  • NGN work will be significant. 40% reduction in energy consumption


The focus on climate change comes straight from the top: ITU is a UN organisation, and Ban Ki Moon suggested that climate change be a focus for ITU under his watch.

This will not be easy - there are 300 or 400 groups producing ICT standards, the industry players often don't know where to go to develop standards and end up developing competing standards at the same time, which isn't good for the industry or consumers because it drives up costs.

Not to be deterred, this will be a big topic at the ITU conference in October.

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